Fred & Gari's, Total Juice Plus Downtown to Close This Month

The closure is due to a disagreement with new landlord terms.

Jan 21, 2022 at 9:38 am
click to enlarge Total Juice Plus has been serving Cincinnati for 24 years. - Photo:
Total Juice Plus has been serving Cincinnati for 24 years.

Lunch won’t be the same in the Central Business District, as two decades-old staples are being told to leave their storefronts. Both Total Juice Plus and Fred & Gari’s have said they will be closing their doors by the end of January.

Emil Mallat received a note from his landlord on Nov. 12 saying that Total Juice Plus, the business his father Joseph started 24 years ago and which he co-owns, had to vacate its storefront at 631 Vine St. by the end of this January. Fred & Gari’s, the deli soup and sandwich takeout joint next door, received a similar ultimatum.

Mallat tells CityBeat there was one option their landlord, 1W7 CARPARK, LLC, offered: The businesses could move to an adjacent location in the building they’ve occupied since June of 1998 if they agreed to a 300% rent hike.

The letter to Total Juice Plus, which Mallat provided to CityBeat, reads in part: “On June 1st, 1998 Landlord and Tenant entered into a lease which currently stands as a month to month agreement, where the landlord or tenant may give 30 days to terminate the lease. We ask that you would be out of the space no later than January 31, 2022. We do, however, have another option if you would like to remain a tenant in our building in an adjacent space. We’d like to the (sic) opportunity to discuss future building plans and review the following terms with you as soon as possible.”

This comes at a time when Total Juice Plus is only seeing 50% of its regular income due to the pandemic’s influence on city foot traffic, says Mallat.

Total Juice Plus has been a mainstay of the weekday lunch rush downtown for more than two decades, offering healthy menu items like wraps, freshly-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices and all-natural nonfat smoothies. The Mallat family has owned and operated this business at the Vine Street location since it opened.

“When we moved in and up until about three years ago, we were leasing and had a strong relationship with Macy’s,” Mallat says, referring to the building's previous owner. “We never missed payments. We were paid ahead, in fact, by three months.”

“Now this, the timing and neglect of compassion or decency,” he says. “They never gave us warning or a heads up of a project or anything. Sent us a note like an elementary student.”

Fred & Gari’s has served food at 629 Vine St. since 1987, first as a ZZ’s Pizza Company franchise, then independently in 1994. The business's daily rotating assortment of soups, pizza and classic deli sandwiches draw lines out the door on a regular basis.

“I knew that it was going to happen sooner or later, but I didn’t know when,” says Gari Jager, owner of Fred & Gari’s.

“They had the option to do that,” he says of the terms of the lease.

Macy’s sold the garage and merchant levels of its building on the 600 block of Vine Street to 1W7 CARPARK, LLC in 2018, according to property records. 1W7 CARPARK, LLC did not respond to CityBeat’s inquiries.

According to 1W7 CARPARK's note that Mallat shared, Total Juice Plus was engaged in a month-to-month agreement where either the landlord or the business could give 30 days notice to terminate the lease. Mallat has sought legal advice but doesn’t believe anything will change the outcome. He says his father suffered an anxiety attack over the holidays because of the note instead of celebrating as the family had hoped.

“Twenty four years serving Cincinnati, only to be shrugged off as if we were college tenants in an apartment,” Mallat says. “We are absolutely crushed, but we are making it, smiling, going on as best we can.”

There’s no certainty as to what will happen next for the two businesses; neither are sure what the public could do to help them at this time, though Jager says he will start to look for a new location to reopen after taking a much-deserved vacation in February.

“Things happen for a reason,” Jager says, “and it’s going to get better.”

Total Juice Plus, 631 Vine St.,
Fred & Gari’s, 629 Vine St.,

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